Returned Sailor's & Soldier's Imperial League (RSSILA) membership badge : Private S Hall, 31 Battalion AIF

Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number REL/09245
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Badge
Physical description Enamel, Gilded metal
Maker Stokes & Sons, Melbourne
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made c 1920
Conflict Period 1920-1929
First World War, 1914-1918

Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia Badge. The centre of the badge shows a sailor and a soldier in raised detail. A blue enamel circle surrounds the central detail and has 'RETURNED SAILORS & SOLDIERS / IMPERIAL LEAGUE' in gilt lettering. The outer edges of the badge are white enamel with a floral spray to the top left and right of the blue circle. At the bottom of the badge is a red enamelled scroll with 'AUSTRALIA' written in gilt lettering. On the reverse of the badge are soldered two brass lugs with a split pin attached for securing the badge to clothing. Stamped at the top of the badge is 'COPYRIGHT' and at the bottom of the badge is impressed '23383' and the maker's details 'STOKES & SONS MELBOURNE'.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of 1546 Private Stephen Hall. Hall was born in Kelvinside, Scotland on 31 July 1888 and was working as a painter on enlistment in Brisbane on 13 August 1915. He embarked for Egypt aboard HMAT Wandilla on 9 November, as a member of the 31st Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements.

Hall was taken on strength by 31 Battalion on 12 February 1916 at Serapeum, Egypt and embarked for France on 16 June, arriving in Marseilles a week later. On the night of 19 July, Hall advanced with his unit at Fromelles, the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front. Their objective was to capture the first line of German trenches. Hall's platoon achieved this and held their position for 15 minutes before moving on past the third line of trenches. The men had only just started to dig themselves in, when they received orders to retire back to their first objective.

Hall had received a wound while digging in - a bullet to his left shoulder, however he did not take much notice of it. During the retirement, but before the returned to the third line of trenches, he received another bullet through his left knee. Hall managed to crawl back to the first line of trenches, but was hit again, this time with shrapnel across his right leg.

Early the following morning, the Germans counter-attacked. Three of Hall's platoon tried to help him back to the Allied line on an oil sheet. One of the men was kneeling and lifting Hall out, when a bullet went through the former's head. He was killed instantly. Hall told the other two men to save themselves, but before they left, they placed Hall under shelter.

The Germans found him, and he was dragged along to a dugout where he remained for two days. Hall was then transferred to a First Aid Dressing Station just outside of the trench. All his wounds were dressed and he received an inoculation to the chest and an injection in his arm. He entrained for Valenciennes Hospital, where he arrived on 27 July. Hall underwent three separate operations on his knee while at the hospital and left there on 16 November for Cologne Hospital. He also attended a separate massage hospital for seven weeks and began to start using his feet again. Hall was transferred to Stendal Camp on 16 March 1917 where he worked plaiting straw.

On 16 July 1917, Hall went before an International Medical Board and was accepted for repatriation to England. He left Stendal on 6 January 1918 for Aachen, arriving in Rotterdam on 15 January. On 20 January he arrived in England and was admitted to King George's Hospital, Stamford, for treatment on his knee. Hall was then transferred to the 3rd Australian Army Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford on 28 January, but was discharged on 7 February and given two months leave. He returned to Australia aboard RMS Ruahine on 12 May, disembarking on 5 July. Hall underwent further medical treatment at the 6th Australian General Hospital in Queensland before being discharged from the AIF on 2 January 1919.